PLA names captain of its first aircraft carrier

Naval veteran's first act as chief is to attend vessel's commissioning ceremony in Dalian

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 10:40am

Senior Captain Zhang Zheng was named captain of the nation's first aircraft carrier yesterday.

"Today will be forever remembered as China's Navy has entered an era of aircraft carrier," Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying on the carrier's flight deck.

Zhang, a 42-year-old from Zhejiang , became an assistant engineer at the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army Navy's East Sea Fleet in August 1990, after graduating from the automatic control department at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

He went on to command a frigate and a destroyer between 1995 and 2001.

Zhang, who holds a master's degree in warship operation and command from Dalian Naval Academy, then studied at Britain's Defence School of Languages and Joint Services Command and Staff College for several years.

The East Sea Fleet, based in Ningbo , Zhejiang, is tasked with patrolling the East China Sea, including the Diaoyu Islands, and the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing-based newspaper The Mirror reported last month that Zhang's predecessor Li Xiaoyan, who's been widely reported as the carrier's first chief, had been made a deputy staff of the East Sea Fleet.

Meanwhile, Senior Captain Mei Wen , 47, was appointed political commissar of the new carrier.

The first duty for both Zhang and Mei in their new capacities was to take part in yesterday's commissioning ceremony for the carrier - named Liaoning - which was held on the vessel in Dalian, Liaoning. Xinhua said more than 98 per cent of the officers on Liaoning have bachelor's degrees, and about 50 have postgraduate qualifications.